Your path in the sport is rarely simple but it is ever important to stay true to what you want to get out.
Many regular readers of the MEC athlete wraps will have noticed an obvious omission from last weekends race results, particularly those in the white and blue. I'm far from one to play favorites and it was my thought that Angelo Bonacci deserved his own write up particularly after the character he has shown during his time with the squad. It's certainly not to pump up his tires but to highlight a story and traits that many in our sport have and often overlook and many could aspire to.
Ang headed off to Malaysia last week to take on the Ironman on Saturday. He had a day where he swam well, rode reasonably and ran fairly. Overall a good day and one that he will be pleased with but not over the moon. While that in itself is not a overly inspiring read or summary, the process in which Ang got himself to this point shows more.
The goal for many people is to reach Kona as it is for Ang. For some this is a pipedream and as all age group athletes should take into account, other life factors that are essential dictate to an extent how long a pipe this is. For others with different circumstances it may be more achievable with time and allocation of priorities. Many enter our sport with an overzealous attitude and within a few years are burnt out from too much training, chasing races and too much pressure on themselves thus taking away the enjoyment. Absolutely, go and push yourself to your best but particularly if you are an age grouper, don't lose sight of enjoying the process rather than being solely outcome driven. Ang does this well and his contribution to the sport through his involvement in Nuna Tri club, regular racer and setting and holding himself to his standard has seen him improve in leaps and bounds.
Ang raced Cairns IM 2016 following a great preparation while working a fulltime job as many age groupers do and came away 21st in his age group and a sniff that he was heading in the right direction if he kept improving. 12 months down the track (2017) again at Cairns after a successful year of improvements Ang as many do looked at the previous year to what the 'standard' was to be able to reach the goal. 9hr 42 was that mark in 2016 and he was on the hunt after putting in the work in training. A great day across the board and Ang stopped the clock at 9hr 40min this time around. As racing goes, the rest of the field was quicker and the Kona spot evaded this time around.
Recovery and new plans for the end of the year had Ang off to a 70.3 race in Chongqing, China. The prep done and about to head out on the final ride 8 days before the event Ang got an email from the event organisers advising that the event had been cancelled. In great form and wanting to race, Ang bumped on to Taiwan the following week to have a crack at the full distance. With as little drama is possible to change flight, book accommodation and rearranging annual leave he arrived raring to go. After a great swim/bike he dismounted the bike into T2 only to have his feet burnt and blister instantly from the hot ground surface. 4k in and barely about to walk he pulled the pin with the haunting fact of watching the guy who got off the bike 5 mins behind run his way into 2nd and 40 sec from the win. Not a word of complaint from Ang though. He wanted to earn his place and in the way he felt proud of.
After all of this he received an email from Ironman offering in consolation for cancelling the 70.3 and moving to Taiwan an entry to the 2018 Ironman World Champs. His spot was there but staying true to how he wanted to achieve his dream he made the call he wanted to earn the spot himself through racing.
Everyone has their story and in many ways Ang's is not any more special or uncommon than others racing. As a lover of sport and what it teaches, getting to watch people giving their best to it and through it learning lessons that will not only help them improve racing but will change them forever off the track as well. Learning first hand that many things come through consistent hard work and even then there are no guarantees on when things get achieved but if you keep showing up and sharpening the axe, eventually the tree will come down.
Stick to your path and if you really do enjoy what you do, the harder it gets and the more challenges you face the more you should smile, because by the end no matter if you reach your target or not, you will be forever changed and a stronger person for it.